About us

The Oral Health Promotion team work within a range of settings to help maintain and improve the oral health of specific groups of people across Derbyshire County.

We deliver a wide range of initiatives around evidence-based objectives, demonstrating how oral health can often be embedded within existing policies and practices, which impact general health and well being.

Oral Health initiatives are targeted in localities where there is a high dental need with a particular focus on children, vulnerable adult groups and older people. 

There are two common oral diseases - tooth decay and gum disease. Both can limit an individual’s ability to eat, speak and chew and both are largely preventable. Many of the risk factors associated with poor oral health such as smoking, alcohol misuse and a poor diet are also risk factors for other general health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

There are five key messages to support good oral health:

  • Diet – Reduce the frequency and amount of sugary foods and drinks in the diet. A top tip is to keep sweet treats to mealtimes only.
  • Toothbrushing – Brush last thing at night and on one other occasion. Try not to rinse out after brushing as you will wash the fluoride content of the toothpaste away.
  • Fluoride – Use a fluoride toothpaste to give your teeth maximum protection. Check that your toothpaste contains at least 1000 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride. This can be seen on the label. As we grow the amount of fluoride needed to protect our teeth changes:
    • 0-3yrs—at least 1000ppm (just a smear of paste-the size of a grain of rice)​​​​​​​
    • ​​​​​​​3+yrs – 1350-1500ppm (use a pea sized amount)
    • ​​​​​​​Some people are prescribed an even higher amount of fluoride by their dentist. If you have a prescribed toothpaste, please keep it out of reach of children and do not share it with others.
  • Dental Visits – It is important to visit the dentist regularly. Children should have their first visit by the age of one. For help finding an NHS dentist, visit www.nhs.uk.
  • Smoking – Smoking increases your risk of gum disease, oral cancers and other chronic diseases. Did you know you are four times more likely to quit smoking with the help of your local stop smoking service? For help quitting contact Stopping smoking - Live Life Better Derbyshire.

We aim to reduce inequalities in oral health between those living in the most and least deprived areas of Derbyshire.

This specification links directly to the following Public Health Indicators:

  • Contribution to a reduction in health inequalities
  • Indicator 4.02: Tooth decay in children aged 5

Epidemiological data shows that the dental health of population of Derbyshire County is better than the England average. However there are still pockets of high dental need.

Public Health England: National Dental Epidemiology Programme for England: oral health survey of 3-year-old children 2020

Early Years and Oral Health

Giving every child the best start in life is an underlying theme in all aspects of Early Years frameworks. Childhood disadvantage can significantly impact adult health, and behaviours and habits formed early on can continue into adult life.  Shockingly, a recent dental health survey of 3 year olds showed that children in Derbyshire already have experience of decayed, missing and filled teeth at this early age.

Evidence based studies have found that children living in areas of deprivation are more likely to:

  • Either share or not own a toothbrush
  • Not brush regularly
  • Brush unsupervised
  • Consume sugary drinks and snacks more frequently
  • Visit the dentist less frequently.

 We also know that prevention of tooth decay is linked to: 

  • Brushing last thing at night and at least one other occasion
  • Supervised brushing by an adult
  • Using a pea size amount of toothpaste containing at least 1000ppm of fluoride. For the best control of decay family toothpaste is best. 
  • Spitting out after brushing and not rinsing.
  • Reducing the frequency of sugary foods/drinks – no more than four episodes within each day.
  • Children who establish good brushing habits from an early age have fewer problems with tooth decay

The Oral Health Promotion team deliver evidence based training following the guidance below to help early years and school settings set up supervised tooth brushing programmes.

  1. PHE Toolkit to support commissioning of supervised tooth brushing programmes in early years
  2.  COVID-19: supervised toothbrushing programmes

The Early Years Setting provides a learning environment in which children can develop lifelong skills, attitudes, behaviours and knowledge to influence positive oral and health outcomes in later life. Establishing tooth brushing routines within early years settings can easily be linked to the main components of the early year’s curriculum.

Smile4Life is our supervised toothbrushing programme. It is an early year’s intervention offering children the chance to have additional toothbrushing sessions, which help them to develop toothbrushing as a life skill.

We offer this programme to early years settings who provide care to children in areas of high deprivation and where funded two-year-old places are taken up.

If your setting does not meet these criteria, we can offer you discounted rates for toothbrushes and paste and storage racks for you to buy in. Training and ongoing support from our Oral Health Team will be provided free of charge to enable you to set up and deliver a successful preventive oral health intervention for your children.

Register your interest here. 

Our Special Smiles Programme involves supervised toothbrushing to help reduce the risk of gum disease and dental decay, promoting healthy outcomes for this target group.

The latest oral health survey done in special schools (PHE 2015) shows:

  • Lower levels of tooth decay, but higher incidence of tooth extractions.
  • Those with tooth decay have more teeth affected.
  • Oral hygiene is poorer amongst children and young people with special needs.
  • As with main stream schools, deprivation has an impact on dental decay.
  • deprivation is linked to, not brushing, consuming high amounts of sugar and infrequent dental visits. 

The Special Smiles Award recognises that children in special schools are particularly vulnerable and require additional support to prevent both gum disease and tooth decay to achieve better oral health. Each special school is encouraged to appoint an oral health champion and work towards including oral health activities within the school curriculum and taking part in tooth brushing.​​​​​

We support the delivery of Oral Health promotion within the school curriculum.

Giving every child the best start in life is a key recommendation of the Marmot Review (2010). Childhood disadvantage can significantly impact adult health and behaviours and habits formed early on can continue into adult life. It is important to embed key oral health messages into the school curriculum to demonstrate why looking after the mouth is so important.

Links to online curriculum resources

NEW Derbyshire Smile4Life Curriculum Resources!

NEW Change 4 Life - Keeping our teeth healthy school resources are now available via Change 4 Life website

Resource Library

Using the catalogues below complete the resource loan sheet and email it to the team. All contact details are on the form. Please note that we do not reserve items and generally expect resources to be loaned for a period not exceeding 2 weeks.

Tooth brushing Apps



Poor oral health can affect an individual’s ability to eat, speak, chew and socialise. Since the addition of fluoride to toothpaste people now keep their natural teeth for longer and this can mean they need more complex dental care than people who have dentures.

More than half of older adults who live in care homes have tooth decay, compared to 40% of over 75s who do not live in care homes.

People living in care homes are at greater risk of poor oral health because:

  • Long-term conditions (including arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and dementia) can make it harder to hold and use a toothbrush, and to go for dental treatment
  • Many medicines reduce the amount of saliva produced and leave people with a dry mouth
  • They are at higher risk of getting oral infections and ulcerations
  • Lack of toothbrushing equipment
  • Staff working in the care home may not have received training in delivering mouth care.

Professional Guidance

Training, E-Learning and resources